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Open at Your Own Risk

Sometimes your email access can be denied not because of the number or size of messages but because of a single malformed message. An email application might not be able to gracefully handle the error condition caused by a malformed message. This malformed message might cause your email program to malfunction or even crash. When a single message can cause a denial of service, the traditional approaches to handling denial of service aren't adequate.

Case Study 10-4

Jeff received an email from someone he didn't recognize. The subject of the email was “Re: About your account status.” Jeff clicked on the email message, and his email program shut down. He figured he had done something wrong, so he restarted his email program and clicked on the message again, but with the same result.

Rebooting his computer didn't help, either. No matter what he did, every time he clicked on the email message, his email program shut down. Jeff figured that if the email was important, the person would try again, and it would probably work.



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